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The Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society


INSEAD at the HeForShe Summit: Representation of Women in Leadership


The Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society

INSEAD at the HeForShe Summit: Representation of Women in Leadership

INSEAD at the HeForShe Summit: Representation of Women in Leadership

INSEAD continues its partnership with UN Women as Dean Ilian Mihov, HeForShe Champion, attended the HeForShe Summit in New York on Wednesday 21st September 2022. Read to find the key recommendations to advance gender parity.

On Wednesday 21st September 2022, UN Women hosted their HeForShe Summit in New York.

HeForShe is a UN Women led solidarity movement, inviting both men and women to unite and advance global gender equality. In 2021, INSEAD became the first business school to join UN Women’s HeforShe Alliance by committing to a gender balanced board by 2023 as part of the school’s ongoing pledge to gender parity.

The 2022 summit was a global meeting of champions who are making tangible commitments towards accelerating gender equality. This year’s conversations were particularly centred on how male actions such as allyship can advance the cause. Dean Ilian Mihov, as a HeForShe Champion paving the way to gender parity in academia, participated in the summit panel “Representation of Women in Leadership”. Dean Mihov was joined by Åsa Regnér (Assistant Secretary General & Deputy Executive Director of UN Women) and C Vijayakumar (CEO & Managing Director of HCL Technologies). Sanda Ojiambo, Assistant Secretary General and CEO of United Nations Global Compact moderated the panel. During the panel, Mihov shared personal anecdotes of challenges he has experienced in both academia and business to overcome his own bias and advance equality.

The panel also discussed how to accelerate change. According to the latest figures, women hold only 8% of leadership positions in Fortune 500 companies, and UN Women predict it will take close to 300 years to achieve full gender equality. Change is slow and yet, from a business perspective, increased DEI within firms increases innovation turnover by 19 points and profitability (EBIT) by 9 points. Simply put the more diverse, the more innovation, and thus the more profitable.

Here are 3 key actionable takeaways from the panel:

  1. Join a network. Mihov highlighted that tackling gender inequality all ‘alone is very difficult’. Joining a network like ‘HeForShe’ provides organizational benefits and can help structure your DEI push.
  2. Allyship and sponsorship not just mentorship. An accelerated shift from mentoring to sponsoring talented individual. Sponsorship is being actively involved in aiding someone’s career progression such as vouching for their work, putting them forward for an event or introducing them to your network. Being an ally that proactively sponsors is key to making a company more equitable.
  3. Education! For the future generations to fully understand DEI, there needs to be a review of business education curriculum. It is vital that students are being educated with a curriculum that includes more DEI so these leaders of tomorrow can make sustained and meaningful change.

The HeForShe summit was a place where global gender goals advanced through the sharing of individual experiences. Sharon Brooks, Executive Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at INSEAD summed up the impact of the summit:

The U.N. Women HeforShe Summit was an extraordinary event that was effective and impactful in raising awareness around the global need for gender equality initiatives. We were pleased that INSEAD’s Dean, Ilian Mihov, a HeforShe Champion, could participate as a speaker and share both INSEAD’s gender equality commitments and his own personal experiences as an ally, as well as INSEAD’s inclusive leadership efforts. As someone who has worked in academic communities for over 15 years, it was especially meaningful for me to share best practices, and be in conversation, with colleagues who are also dedicated to supporting inclusive environments in their communities, across industries. I extend my thanks to the U.N. Women team for hosting an insightful, wide-ranging, outcome-oriented, and collaborative series of discussions.”

Read about our INSEAD Gender Initiative

Read about ‘Gender and the Future of Work’ session at ChangeNOW

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